In 1990, the Museum commissioned Mark Klett to photograph Shields of the American Indian in Rock Art for a book and exhibition under development by Museum Director Laurel Reuter. Ultimately, Klett completed nineteen images, many of them made up of multiple photographs, and a complete set entered the Museum’s collection.

Then, following the great flood of 1997, the Museum escalated the commissioning of landmark works of art anchored in the landscape, history, and culture of the Northern Plains. New works of art enrich the body of art inherent to the region, expand the cultural life of the Northern Plains, nurture artists, and provide the wellspring for dialogue between the general public and the artistic community.

The flood commissions completed between 1997 and 1998 included:

• Mary Lucier: Floodsongs, a five-channel video installation with surround sound,

• Barton Lidice Benes: Ebb Tide, a 5 by 24 foot relief installation,

• Modern Man: Painting Installation,

• Mitsuo Toyazaki: Memories of the Flood installation,

• Lois Johnson: Timeline, a book installation,

Other themed commissions followed:

• Meeting Ground, a musical composition by Jeffery Hudson in collaboration with the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra. Hudson was asked to attempt to bridge the gap between traditional American Indian pow wow music and Western classical music (2002–03).

• A mural about contemporary Native life by the late Minnesota artist Michael James Boyd, a Leach Lake Ojibwa from Cass Lake (2003).

• “The Emptying Out of the Plains” with Mary Lucier, Jon Solinger, Aganetha Dyck and Richard Dyck, and Kathryn Lipke (2003–05). 
 “Marking the Land: Jim Dow in North Dakota” (1981–2004).

• “Songs for Spirit Lake” a collaboration funded by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s Artistic Innovation and Collaboration Grant Program to commission six artists to create work exploring life on North Dakota’s mixed race, multi-cultural Spirit Lake Nation of the Dakota (Sioux) people. Artists included Rena Effendi, Bill Harbort, John Hitchcock, Terry Jelsing, Mary Lucier, and Tim Schouten (2012–15).


Mark Klett
All American Man, Salt Creek, Utah, 1996
16"H X 20"W







Oakes Twins Commissioned by North Dakota Museum of Art


In August 2012, the Museum opened an exhibition by the Oakes Twins. Identical twin artists, Ryan and Trevor Oakes, create perspective drawings from nature and architecture using an innovative concave easel, invented as part of their ongoing exploration of human vision and the experience of space and depth. The twins returned to create a commission in which they captured the snow-covered Red River Valley landscape.



Moving Tradition into the Future



NEA Grant for the Webbs



Vernal Bogren Swift's Batik commissions



Michael Wittgraf's Bassoon Trio: Three of a Kind